Last year, after Congressional Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, we noted that “the climate crisis has a growing death toll and has caused incredible damage around the country, including rural communities. People living in rural areas have become all too familiar with drought, violent storms and floods, rising temperatures, and megafires. This law makes the most significant contribution ever to addressing the crisis, yet every Republican in Congress voted against this legislation.”
Now we are seeing the implementation of resources that will make progress possible as the Biden-Harris administration announced Tuesday “nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities that will help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country.”
The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of Rural Organizing:
In 2022, when President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, we knew it had great potential to improve the quality of life in rural communities across the country. Today, we are seeing an important step in that direction with the investment of $11 billion in clean energy funding for rural America. As the Department of Agriculture noted, “this represents the single largest investment in rural electrification since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law in 1936.”
Let’s be clear: the IRA is a down payment on problems that have been ignored for too long. And, this funding must be implemented with environmental justice as a key tenet. But $11 billion for rural communities is a substantial investment and, frankly, it’s the level of commitment that rural communities need and deserve. Rural voters have told us they need more high-quality jobs and higher wages. These investments by the Biden-Harris administration will create green jobs with strong labor standards. We can’t let House Republicans undermine this progress with their extreme budget positions.
The following is a statement from Annie Contractor, Associate Manager, Government Affairs at Rural Organizing:
The rural energy investments announced Tuesday are critical for moving our country toward climate sustainability. We applaud Congress for recognizing the critical role rural communities play in our country’s climate resilience by creating these investments.
To truly pursue environmental justice, we all still have important work to do. And we must ensure that this new funding benefits the communities that need them most, namely those communities of color and Indigenous communities that face the most egregious environmental risks and harms.
Today we can see that ambitious investments in rural communities are attainable. With so much more work to do centering the communities that face the most harm, the $11 billion announced today can be our demonstration of what is possible.
“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.”